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Labor of Love is a product of the Indiana State Department of Health in cooperation with other organizations.

Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his or her first birthday. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet it has an unacceptably high rate of infant mortality compared to other wealthy countries. In fact, the U.S. ranks consistently near the bottom of a 34-country list published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in regards to infant health. In Iceland, for example, just 1.6 out of every 1,000 babies die within the first year of life, and in Japan, Sweden and Finland, the infant mortality rate is 2 out of every 100,000 live births. An April 2013 report from Save the Children states that more babies die within their first year of life in the United States than in 68 other countries, including those not routinely regarded for excellent health care, such as Egypt, Turkey and Peru.

The problem is particularly significant in Indiana, where the overall infant mortality rate was 6.7 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2012. Even more alarming: African-American infants fare worst of all, with a death rate almost three times that of white infants.

A number of factors contribute to infant mortality. The five leading causes of infant death are serious birth defects, prematurity and low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), pregnancy complications, and injuries. These factors account for approximately 57 percent of all infant deaths in the U.S.

To combat unacceptable rates of infant mortality in Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health, through its Maternal and Child Health program, is initiating a statewide sustained education and outreach effort. This has been identified as the agency’s No. 1 priority.

For more information and referral services call the MCH MOMS Helpline at 1-844-MCH-MOMS (1-844-624-6667) or visit http://www.MomsHelpline.isdh.IN.gov

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